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Silicon Valley: The New Home of Political Giants


The social media king is extending his domain into politics. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is hooking up with a slew of tech titans to launch a political advocacy group focusing on education and immigration reform. The WSJ reports:

Mr. Zuckerberg is working on launching the group along with close friend Joe Green, who was one of the CEO’s Harvard University roommates, these people said. The group is expected to be formally announced in the next few weeks, they added.

The group, which so far doesn’t have a name, is aiming to raise roughly $50 million and has already secured commitments in the tens of millions of dollars from Mr. Zuckerberg and more than a dozen other tech executives including LinkedIn Corp. founder Reid Hoffman, said these people.

Zuckerberg’s group is not alone. Silicon Valley as a whole is becoming increasingly involved in the political game. Zuckerberg himself recently hosted a fundraiser for New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie. Other tech heavyweights have been major donors to President Obama (his campaign received $720,000 in itemized contributions from Google alone) and to the Democrats overall.

As we’ve written before, the collaboration between Silicon Valley and DC will only grow in the years ahead. Silicon Valley needs Washington’s support to fend off challenges from rival tech companies in other countries (like China). These companies also want Washington’s help on IP issues abroad. And Washington, for its part, has come to realize that America will increasingly rely on technological strength to project its power abroad. Defense contracts have always been an important part of the nutrient mix that makes Silicon Valley prosper; this won’t change in times to come.

Can this lead to crony capitalism and bad policy? It certainly can. There have already been cases when cozy relations between tech capitalists and lawmakers led to unhealthy copyright proposals. One reason we need a free press is to keep tabs on collusion between corporate interests and lawmakers.

But the larger point remains: the information economy is not about the end of the nation state. States continue to matter in the 21st century, even to information entrepreneurs and social networking companies with a global reach.

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  • Philopoemen

    Zuckerberg himself recently hosted a fundraiser for New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie.


    I didn’t hear anything about this in the news. That’s actually quite shocking.

    • Matthew Schultz

      I assume Christie has been involved in areas that Zuckerberg cares about; Christie seems to be interested in educational reform and Zuckerberg has already donated a lot of money (in the form of stock) to New Jersey’s school system. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was also a clever public relations ploy. If you support a Republican now, you can more easily wear the desirable mantle of “bipartisan” (or other equally innocuous descriptors) when you decide to show your ideological colors. (I can’t imagine many in the tech sector are fond of Republicans.)

  • Tom Lindmark

    Your last paragraph reads as an endorsement of crony capitalism. Those Washington collaborations are useful for fending off domestic as well as foreign challengers. Tech got where it is by being disruptive, DC abhors that state. Who do you think will win that one?

  • Anthony

    Chrystia Freeland in her new book “Plutocrats” provides perspective on the Nerds Rule phenomenon: Orphans of Capital and Aristocracy of Ideas.

  • gracepmc

    Years ago I approached a SV icon, now passed, about a political organization designed to help entrepreneurs and start ups and he coolly informed me (I am being polite about the exchange) that he was too busy building a business to be bothered with politics. Now crony capitalism is well settled in the VC community and growing with entrepreneurs of Zuckerberg’s ilk. And Google might as well be an arm of the Obama Administration. As for innovation — it will continue — but with increasing government “entanglement” a lot will be lost and not much of value gained.

  • mgoodfel

    “mix that makes Silicone Valley prosper”. Should be “Silicon.”

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